ATLANTA — Nothing is ever easy for N.C. State team and it wasn't on Sunday but the Wolfpack found a way to pick up a needed road win.
With 18 points from Richard Howell in the first half, and 11 from C.J. Leslie in the second half, the Wolfpack beat Georgia Tech 70-57 in another physical, deliberate, ACC basketball game best suited for Tums stockholders and amnesiacs.
The Wolfpack, as it has all season, put together a stretch brilliance, which was enough to carry it to a 14-point lead in the first half, but the Yellow Jackets jammed the tempo of the game into a grinder, like sausage into casing.
Only two points separated the two teams at opposite ends of the ACC standings with 7 minutes left. Georgia Tech freshman Marcus Georges-Hunt's layup cut the Wolfpack's lead to 51-49 at that point.
State needed a hoop and Leslie, who labored through the first half while Howell sizzled, delivered a clutch, three-point play.
Leslie took Georgia Tech freshman Robert Carter Jr. off the bounce and made a driving layup and then made his free throw.
Leslie, who had only two points in the first half, finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and four steals.
After N.C. State senior guard Scott Wood picked up a charge on forward Kam Holsey on Georgia Tech's next possession, a layup by Pack point guard Lorenzo Brown pushed the Pack's lead to 56-49.
Leslie drew a double-team after another empty Georgia Tech trip and fed Rodney Purvis in the lane. Purvis was fouled and knocked down both of his free throws for a 58-49 advantage and to effectively close the door on the Jackets.
N.C. State (21-8) improved to 10-6 in the ACC and swept the season series from Georgia Tech (15-13, 5-11).
N.C. State could not have started the game any better, with Howell bulldozing his way to 16 points in the first 12 minutes.
State's defense was active and it was able to get points in transition, mostly due to Purvis' energy off the bench.
With Howell's scoring at will, the Pack led 28-14 before the Jackets made a 16-4 run to cut the Pack's lead to 32-30 at 1:57 with an uncontested layup by freshman guard Chris Bolden.
Georgia Tech was able to get back into the game with nine offensive rebounds. A 3-pointer by senior guard Mfon Udofia cut the Pack's lead to 34-33 with 1:07 left but Leslie fed T.J. Warren (10 points) for a layup with 8.3 seconds left in the half for a 36-33 halftime lead.
Five times in the second half, Georgia Tech made it a two-point game but the Wolfpack never relinquished the lead.